A few days ago I got my regular Mercola.com e-newsletter and I saw an article on a topic that I had come across a few years ago. This inspired me to write today’s post on the juice and flavoured water industry.
In May 2009, Maclean’s Magazine published an article that reviewed the book “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice” by Alissa Hamilton. The article discussed how Hamilton’s book uncovered the truth behind the manufacturing of “100% pure squeezed orange juice” that was “not from concentrate” and “pure and natural.” Unfortunately, these convincing label tag lines couldn’t be farther from the truth. Dr Mercola’s article went over similar ground with respect to the authenticity of manufactured orange juice and he also includes commentary from Alissa Hamilton.
A morning glass of OJ is a very common part of the North American breakfast. People often feel like its a good way to get a serving of fruit first thing in the morning in addition to being a fresh beverage. Unfortunately, the truth is, that manufactured fruit juice of any kind, no matter what the label says (this includes ANY brand of veg or fruit juice), has been processed, pasteurized and modified in manufacturing for flavour, appearance and shelf life.
Here are a few highlights of what happens to juice at the manufacturing plant:
– These juices have been stripped of their oxygen to prevent oxidation (going rancid while on shelves) but this process also causes a change in the flavour of the juice
– Pasteurization at high heat temperatures sterilizes the juice to prevent any bacteria from being present but this process also destroys vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and enzymes
– Juices can be held in storage tanks for long periods of time before packaging… some time periods can be close to one year
– Before packaging, flavour “packs” are added to adjust for aroma and flavour. These “packs” are chemically derived high concentrations of “orange flavour”
– Often a label reading 100% pure will still contain sugar, dye, artificial sweetener and/or perservatives
The concern is that after the juice has been manufactured, even if there is no added sugar, the only thing left over is coloured water with a high concentration of fructose, or fruit sugar. It is estimated that 1 glass of orange juice has the equivalent of 8 teaspoons of sugar. In an actual orange, the fiber of the fruit opposes the fruit sugar, which slows down the way the body uptakes and manages the sugar. Without the fiber opposing the sugar in juice, this sugar is rapidly taken up into the blood stream and causes a spike in blood glucose. Fruit juices are a major modern day health concern especially when it comes to blood sugar management, diabetes, dental health (especially for kids), gout, cholesterol levels and weight management. It has also been well documented that fruit juices add unnecessary calories to the average North American’s diet.
There is even a recent lawsuit that has come up on the manufactures of Vita Coco, a coconut water provider. Coconut water can be a pure way to help hydrate the body. However, they are tangled up in a dispute over their labelling. Its being argued that the electrolyte content on the nutritional label provided by the company is much higher than the actual content of the electrolytes in the coconut water.
This being said what about the “Flavoured Water” or adding “Crystal Light” to water to help jazz things up.
Flavoured Water is sweetened with Splenda and artificial sweeteners are often the sweetening agent in “Crystal Light” or other powdered water flavouring agents.
So what’s the big deal about artificial sweeteners? This must be a better option than sugar?
Artificial sugar is derived from a natural source, but the end product is a chemical compound. There are actual reports of artificial sweetner “toxicity” in some individuals. Furthermore, there is a significant amount of scientific research that has linked artificial sweeteners to the development of:
– Thyroid issues
– Skin rashes
– Lowered sperm count
– Female fertility issues (specifically involving the ovaries)
– Tumor development
– Fibromyalgia and other muscular and joint related diseases
The bottom line is… Juice is not what it seems and we all need to be aware of the fact that modern day food labelling is not regulated.
Manufacturers are pretty much free to put what ever they want on their labels … and hey, they have a whole team of inventive people thinking of wording and phrases to portray certain imagery or appeal when it comes to their product.
Also, the nutrition label may show certain percentages of vitamins are being obtained through consuming the drink, however this is also an illusion. Companies take an “estimate” of the nutrient content BEFORE processing for their nutrition label. These nutrient values are often far less, or non-existent, once the juice makes it to the drinking glass.
Store bought fruit and vegetable juices are notoriously not as healthy as they appear to be. Depending on the person, a manufactured juice can be occasionally enjoyed for fun. However, they cannot be relied upon for a “boost of nutrients” or as a fresh and healthy addition to the day.
The most optimal drink for all living things, including humans, is water. To jazz it up, adding some squeezed lemon, squeezed orange, some cucumber slices, crushed mint leaves or an authentic herbal tea are healthy ways to achieve flavouring if water seems a bit Plain Jane. Easy, simple, pure and truly natural.